Tip #304: Lifelong Learning Opportunities

It doesn’t matter where you live. The range of lifelong learning opportunities available to the general community is simply amazing. We’ll begin this series of Tips by looking at informal learning offerings that are either free or inexpensive.

• Every professional and civic organization has a speaker at their monthly meetings.

• Local hospitals and health care organizations offer health-related workshops.

• Most brick and mortar businesses provide workshops to help consumers learn how to use their products.

• Food cooperatives and grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe, have workshops about food growth, delivery and preparation.

• Community centers offer a wide spectrum of learning opportunities that are as varied as the presenters: candle making, soap making, scrap booking, learning Italian, cooking heart-healthy recipes, etc.

• Local craft stores provide sessions that teach how to knit or quilt, how to make certain holiday crafts, etc.

• School districts offer all sorts of programs geared toward the entire family. Swimming lessons, sports clinics, team sports such as volleyball, softball and basketball; how to play different instruments; a variety of art lessons, different language lessons, computer, games, outings, theater, you name it, it’s available!

• Local organizations schedule outdoor learning opportunities such as bird watching, local flora and fauna, gardening, hiking, lake or beach clean up, etc.

• If you live in a northern climate as I do, community groups provide cross country skiing lessons at local golf courses in the wintertime.

• Libraries and museums provide programs that cover a wide range of topics and interests.

• Churches and other religious institutions have programs in Bible study, community relations, ethics, religious history, family studies, etc.

• Local groups and taverns offer lessons in a variety of dance styles.

• Local schools offer evening classes and theater events.

• I live in a university town (Madison, Wisconsin) and there is not one day or night that doesn’t offer free student or faculty music recitals, art shows, lecturers, etc.

• The internet, where you can learn about absolutely anything- although there is no guarantee that what you are learning is always accurate.

• Newspapers, books and magazines. Television and radio shows, and not just the educational channels.

• Bookstores bring in authors to speak about their books, and book clubs discuss books on a regular basis.

By now, you realize that my definition of learning is very broad. According to Wikipedia, “learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences or understanding, and may involve synthesizing different types of information.” Therefore, any new experience can provide learning opportunities.

There are probably a number of obvious providers of new learning that I have overlooked. Feel free to add to this list.

The bottom line is that there is no limit to the possibilities, if you care to look.

Next week, we will discuss lifelong learning that occurs through social networking.

May your learning be sweet.

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